September 22, 2023
I found myself saying more than once this week, “knock on wood” when relaying what a calm morning or afternoon it was on any given day. To be honest, though, this week it didn’t work to knock on wood, or to stop myself from saying out loud, “what a calm day it is today!” There were lots of lessons this week on being careful with words and actions, repairing hurt feelings through our restorative practices and learning through misunderstandings about how to move forward. This is important work that is done all of the time at Miriam School and was practiced in spades this week.
I hesitated to say here that this week has had its challenges but I also wanted you to know that school, like life, is not always filled with positive experiences. But then I thought, this IS positive news! It is the best news because everyone worked through every single difficult situation and put into practice the social skills they are learning. This is what we hope for every day – that our students are learning academic and social skills that will prepare them for the future. Practicing those lessons here where they can be supported during difficult times will give our students the confidence and success they need when they are out in the world.
As we begin ILP (Individual Learning Plan) meetings I want to take this time to talk about one of the assessments we use to track academic progress. Once a year prior to a student’s ILP planning meeting, the Woodcock-Johnson IV Tests of Academic Achievement (WJ-IV) is administered as one tool used to collect data for goal writing and to measure academic progress. As you know, we write goals that are essential for your child’s unique needs. Be
cause our whole program is designed to support our learners throughout the day, you won’t see as many goals written for your child as you might on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), however in every classroom and therapy area each student is being taught and given the supports needed for them to be successful.
The rating scale that I sent home last week is another measure that helps us program and plan for your child’s social emotional growth. I want to thank those families who have sent in the completed scale. If you have not been able to complete the scale as of yet, I would appreciate your help in filling it out and returning it as soon as possible.
Attached here, please also find a flyer regarding a special Spirit Day on Friday, September 29th. To celebrate our favorite hometown team ahead of Miriam Night at the Ballpark, everyone can wear their favorite Cardinal gear next Friday!
And, finally a reminder that school is not in session on Monday, September 25th.
Have a wonderful weekend,
September 8, 2023
Dear Miriam Families,
Although this short week has not quite ended as I write this, it is clear that we have settled into our rhythm for the year. School years have personalities of sorts and by the third week or so of a new year, school leaders and faculty have a sense of what the overall tone of the year will be. Often this tone is set by world events – like recovering from a global pandemic – and our necessary response to it. The best years are ones in which we can purposefully set it the tone without outside events necessitating that we modify it. This year there is feeling of renewed promise along with a sense of empowerment and calm as everyone is working to make our strong program even stronger.
The teachers are implementing new curriculums, using a new school information system, and working with students during our new lower and middle school reading blocks to create smaller than ever learning groups. One of the teachers came to me this morning to talk about the positive difference these changes are already making as she works to teach her students to be the strongest learners they can be. I am hearing this same sentiment throughout the building. You have heard me say that teachers are first and foremost learners themselves. The learning that this community of educators did over the summer and during staff week through trainings, book studies and workshops as we prepared for the year is already increasing the learning in all academic and therapy areas. At the bottom of this email, you will find links to every classroom newsletter. If you have a few minutes, I encourage you to click on not only your child’s classroom or team newsletter but also rooms to see what all of our students are doing as well. I think it will give you an even stronger picture of the community and program.
Looking ahead to next week, students will be participating in an assembly of remembrance on Patriots Day on Monday afternoon. The assembly will feature a flag demonstration, a short discussion about 9/11 and first responders. The assembly will conclude with a moment of silence, and the whole school singing, This Land Is Your Land together. The other big happening next week is the return of our ever-popular Pizza Friday. It is like a holiday here every month when the pizza lunches take place! In addition, please find the monthly reminders for September also attached here.
While summer is still here, fall is right around the corner and the weather is beginning to moderate. The children are enjoying time on the playground and in the garden at recess and smiles and laughter are the order of the day. I hope that you are able to enjoy some time outdoors with your family and that smiles and laughter are in abundance at your home this weekend.
Have a wonderful weekend,
Head of K-8
August 25, 2023
From Sunday’s ice cream social to Wednesday’s first day of school with donuts, balloons, welcome activities and, most importantly, greeting new and old friends – I found myself marveling that the roof was still on the building with all of the excitement in the air! It has been a week filled with the joy that comes with new beginnings.
During our staff days prior to school opening, I spoke with the faculty about the themes that will drive our learning during our weekly team meetings this year. The theme of the first trimester is Joy and Purpose. In the second trimester we will look at the work we do through the themes of Hope and Growth, and in the third trimester we will finish our weekly professional development work with the themes of Celebration and Accomplishment.
I am a firm believer that those of us who work with children must be models of the people we hope they will be and will become. Our first theme of Joy and Purpose will explore ways in which we can work with our children and families as partners in bettering the lives of those we serve – your children. To this end, the book we will use to explore this theme is, Hopes and Fears: Working with Today’s Independent School Parents, by Robert Evans. The beauty of this book is that it truly gives teachers – and parents – a better understanding of one another. I have had faculty who have already read the book remark that it should be required reading – and so now it will be!
This summer, I asked all faculty to read a book that we began discussing during staff week and will continue to talk about throughout the fall, We Need to Build: Field Notes for a Diverse Democracy, by Eboo Patel. I had the good fortune to hear Patel at a conference last year and was inspired to share not only his book, but also his vision for leadership, inclusion and building strong communities.
Teachers are, first and foremost, learners. This school year, as always, the teachers and I will be learning together but this year I will begin sharing with you more of the work we do as learners that drives the work we do with your children. As I was talking with faculty members this summer about the classes, workshops and research they were doing to improve our methodologies and practices, I realized that this is news we need to share with all of you – our families. This newsletter will serve as a way to share the work we do with you and the larger community and my hope is that it will also give you even more insight to also share with others you know when you talk about our program.
The week is nearly at an end as I write this and we are just beginning, but if all the work the faculty has already been doing is any indication, it promises to be a year of endless possibilities and growth for the children and families we serve. All of us look forward to walking through this year with you and your children as together we make the magic, that is truly Miriam, happen for our students.
Have a wonderful weekend,
Mary Cognata, M.Ed.
Head of School, K-8